Help educate me in leather soles?

Discussion in 'General Attire & Accoutrements' started by BigBrother, Sep 6, 2021.

  1. BigBrother

    BigBrother One of the Regulars

    Messages:
    131
    Hi all! I recently purchased my first pair of Meermins in my new pursuit of leather soles whenever possible (for dance) and also because they are one of the only mfrs with leather soles who make patent leather shoes... and they’re affordable as entry-level leather-soled options.

    Well, after only a single night out, I flipped them over and the soles look like garbage (at least to me). They look like they’re made of pulp paper. I attached some pics and you can tell me if I’m wrong or am correct. I compared them to a pair of Johnston & Murphy’s I own that I absolutely love and they don’t even look like they were made from the same animal (and I’ve already worn those a fair number of times!) Over on Ask Andy, I was informed that these aren’t oak tanned, which brings me to the point of this post:

    Are all leather soles not created equal? What should I be looking for if I want that same solid, lacquered wood-feeling sole I got with my J&Ms? One listing compared to the other:

    https://www.johnstonmurphy.com/melton-cap-toe/2388.html?dwvar_2388_color=Black Calfskin

    https://meermin.com/products/101503-black-patent-e

    (Wow, I just realized they did not finish the sole the way they advertised! Yet another justification for returning if I decide to!)

    Well if you can, please have a look at the pictures, the links, and my description and help fill me in on all of this stuff!

    Thanks so much!
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Sep 6, 2021
  2. GaryJ

    GaryJ New in Town

    Messages:
    8
    Location:
    Toronto, Canada
    I’m not sure but, looking at the pictures I think the soles are made of bonded leather. Bonded leather is made from the scraps and fibres left over from processing genuine leather. These scraps are rolled together with an adhesive onto some type of backing. The amount of genuine leather in bonded leather is somewhere between 10-20%. I have never heard of ‘single leather’, this term strikes me as marketing fluff.

    It looks like you danced like Fred Astaire all night on gravel to damage the leather soles to that extent. I mean even the meermin name has taken a real beating.

    I had a quick look at the meermin site. It does not say where the manufacturing actually takes place. It also makes a large number of unsubstantiated claims. Also, if you click the ‘Get to know us’ link and horizontally scroll the Top Quality Materials section you will see there is still Loren Ipsum (place holder text used when for page layout) in the titles. Very poor attention to detail and in my opinion indicative of a hurried web design and no quality control.

    Sorry to be the bearer of bad news. Perhaps another member has a different view on the leather.
     
    Short Balding Guy likes this.
  3. BigBrother

    BigBrother One of the Regulars

    Messages:
    131
    No this is exactly what I was looking to hear, and bonded leather sounds exactly like what this resembles. It is fibrous. This manufacturer basically has carved a niche as a very entry-level all leather purveyor but I’m beginning to really suspect things. If you have a look at the page for the shoes themselves, the soles look completely different:

    https://meermin.com/products/101503-black-patent-e
     
  4. GaryJ

    GaryJ New in Town

    Messages:
    8
    Location:
    Toronto, Canada
    You’re right, on the website the soles look as if they have been painted black. Genuine leather smells like leather even after a few weeks. Maybe try the sniff test?

    I also noticed the stitching for the Goodyear welt looks a bit iffy. It’s not clear from your photos if the stitching in the sole is within a channel or if it’s flush with the surface of the sole. In my boots with a Goodyear welt the stitching is within a channel so it won’t wear against the ground. These are Boulet cowboy boots though. I’m not sure if this is a common practice or not, it does make sense to me though.

    I reckon the manufacturer (who I suspect is *not* meermin, I think this has been outsourced and meermin is just a reseller) and meermin are misrepresenting these shoes. Of course, perhaps they have their own interpretation of what constitutes genuine leather?

    Again, another member may have more knowledge than I.

    Have as peachy a day as you can :)
     
  5. Blackadder

    Blackadder Call Me a Cab

    Messages:
    2,944
    Location:
    China
    Wow, a closed channel sole showing stitching after one night? I am not sure if it is the road or the way you walk or the quality of the sole.
    I have never seen any shoemaker using bonded leather for sole because bond leather is not gonna hold at all. Reason is once you scrap the bonding materials as well as the coating (and you definitely would), water will cause the bonded leather not only to peel off but disintegrate. They would do much better using rubber sole painted to imitate leather. I doubt your Meermin uses bonded leather. They are perhaps not top notch and not processed to the standard.
    As to your question, JR Rendenbach sole is possibly the standard.
    http://cobblerscorner.net/Products/leathersoles.html
    Perhaps you can try Carmina next.
    https://www.carminashoemaker.com/rendenbach-1228?page=3
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2021
    Short Balding Guy likes this.
  6. BigBrother

    BigBrother One of the Regulars

    Messages:
    131
    @Blackadder I’d be honestly shocked if it were anything but the quality of the shoes. Here are my other, beloved, J&M’s after about six months of dancing, walking about, etc...
     

    Attached Files:

  7. Short Balding Guy

    Short Balding Guy I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    7,799
    Location:
    Minnesota, USA
    BB; The Meermin shoes, in general, are a great value for an inexpensive leather shoe. Made in China and then soled in Spain. I see on Style Forum and from reading their website that they use all leather liners, footbeds, uppers and soles. The all leather heel stacks are a nice feature at their pirce point.

    As to the pics - I have no idea if this is normal wear to a pair of dance shoes. The pic of the blind stitching showing is not uncommon, from what I have read. Your pic of the blind is similar to what is discussed on the YouTube vid, @ 5:32 I have linked.

    The machine blind stitching can have the channel showing uneveness of cut and the stitching not all the way down in the channel.

    Your pics shoe a single leather sole that is untreated. I do not know if that is what was advertised or expected. Was it?

    I hope I have assisted. Cheers, Eric -
     
  8. BigBrother

    BigBrother One of the Regulars

    Messages:
    131
    You have assisted greatly! The only place where they seem to have really failed me then is in the treating of the leather. If you look at the link above to their website, you will see that the sole (on there) appears completely finished/lacquered/tanned/I don’t know what you would call it (it’s all black.)
     
    Short Balding Guy likes this.
  9. BigBrother

    BigBrother One of the Regulars

    Messages:
    131
    Well this was quite interesting and unexpected! I took both pairs of shoes (Johnston and Murphy and these) to my local extremely knowledgeable and highly-rated cobbler to weigh in. Did not expect this: he said that the Meermins were of far superior quality to the Johnston and Murphys and that what they did was basically split out a little bit of the top leather to do the stitching and then fold it back over, thus hiding the stitching for a smooth look (when new). He said he couldn’t even do such work and that it was highly complex, that a local guy he knows can do it but it would cost ~$250, etc. It was this thin folded-over layer that was now flaking off (not an issue). I did not expect him to regard these this highly! I guess Meermin actually are good!
     
  10. Harris HTM

    Harris HTM One Too Many

    Messages:
    1,389
    Location:
    the Netherlands
    This is called a closed channel stitching and is used mainly by high-end manufacturers. The thin layer of leather that hides the stitch will eventually wear off at points of friction. I've had similar effects with handgrade Crockett and Jones (that cost 5 times more than the Meermins).
    The Meermin's are definitely value for money if you don't mind the attention to finishing details or the fact that they are made in China. Goodyear welted, good materials, good construction quality.
     
    BigBrother likes this.
  11. ReynardTheFox

    ReynardTheFox New in Town

    Messages:
    36
    I always remember my grandfather taking sandpaper to his new shoes soles and then he would glue a philips?? sole onto it. He always bought quality shoes and they always had leather soles but anyone that has walked on certain surfaces after a downpour will understand why its essential.:p
     
    Edward likes this.
  12. BigBrother

    BigBrother One of the Regulars

    Messages:
    131
    Yeah I actually last night read up on this. Thanks so much for the input. Cool to learn, and I'm glad these are good! Now I just need to solve one last issue with these: the openings are a bit higher than my other dress shoes, so on just my left foot, the left side of my ankle bone is getting abraded. The cobbler recommended a wedge insert to raise my feet but I'd rather just wear/soften/bend the edge, which I hope will occur over time. If not I can go the wedge route, maybe cut or sand down the edge, or something else you all can recommend (?)
     
  13. Harris HTM

    Harris HTM One Too Many

    Messages:
    1,389
    Location:
    the Netherlands
    In general, when new, I also get abrasion points with almost every single pair. I usually wear new shoes with silicone plasters at my feet (here they are sold under the name of Compeed) at these points till the leather breaks in. You may try it and if it doesn't work then trust your cobbler!
     
  14. GHT

    GHT I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    7,677
    Location:
    New Forest
    Big Brother, Eric is right the welts are Chinese made and then the shoe is made on the Balearic Island of Mallorca. In your first post you said: "Well, after only a single night out, I flipped them over and the soles look like garbage (at least to me). They look like they’re made of pulp paper." It's the word pulp that caught my eye because pulp soles is what dance shoes are made from.

    All my dance shoes are pulp cardboard soles, they are constructed that way so that on the ballroom floor, dance steps can glide easily and the ballroom floor, often a very expensive, sprung ballroom floor, is not damaged. Dance shoes are not street shoes and shouldn't be worn as such. A quick dash to the car and back might be ok, but if it's been raining, the soles of dance shoes won't survive in the wet.

    The soles of the shoes that you have issues with is something of a quandary, I've read what others have said about the term, bonded leather and single leather, and I wonder if your shoes are street shoes or dance shoes. The devil is in the detail, what did the sales literature read? But even if they are for the ballroom floor only, the "leather" defeats the object. You won't have that glide ability that true dance shoes have and the ballroom floor could easily get scratched with the soles on your shoes, well almost on your shoes.

    If you complain to the vendor where you bought them and get no joy, you can, here in the UK, got to an independent body known as The Office of Fair Trading. If you are not UK based then perhaps you might have an equivalent department in your country. From the photos that you have posted I would say that your shoes are not fit for purpose. I hope you can get them replaced or your money back.
     
  15. BigBrother

    BigBrother One of the Regulars

    Messages:
    131
    Just an update (also, @GHT, they are certainly just plain dress shoes, not dancers.):

    I wore them out to a full night of dancing on a regular floor, and they now look identical to my J&Ms (see pic)! It was just that thin, top closed leather layer that had to wear off to expose the regular leather underneath. We are good! Thanks so much everyone.

    Now I just need to figure out the best strategy for stopping the ankle bone abrasion. I think I will have the cobbler try to cut some as I don’t want to have to use inserts.
     

    Attached Files:

  16. Edward

    Edward Bartender

    Messages:
    22,433
    Location:
    London, UK
    Recommend the Compeed plasters - got me through break-in with a nice pair of boots I was too vain about to wear only sparingly when first new...

    No idea of the brands involved, but the first time I have any new pair of shoes re-heeled (if not before) I always have my cobbler stick a thin, rubber overlay on the sole as well. Never yet work out a leather sole as a result.
     

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.